Where to Snorkel in Ha’apai
For a true island escape, snorkelling just you and the fishes, Ha’apai is the Tongan island group to consider. The less-visited island group provides decent snorkelling from the shore of many beach resorts, as well as a short boat ride away. The water temperatures are comfortable all year round, while the water visibility is often some of the best in the Kingdom, usually around 30m (100ft). So check out some of the beaches and accommodations where it’s best to snorkel in Ha’apai in the list below.
If you can’t make it to one of the snorkelling spots mentioned below, hop on one of the snorkelling tours by boat which take you to the outer reefs. See Ha’apai boat tours listed in the 10 Best Snorkelling Tours in Tonga.
1. Matafonua Lagoon Reef, Foa Island
Houmale’eia Beach and Matafonua Lodge at the tip of Foa Island are just a 20m (65ft) swim away to one of the top snorkelling spots in Ha’apai. Expanding 400m (1,312ft), the Matafonua Lagoon Reef is a marine reserve harbouring an array of colourful corals and reef fish. The best snorkelling spot is marked by a buoy so finding the place is easy. Complimentary snorkelling gear is offered to guests of the resort. Otherwise, casual visitors are also free to enjoy this reserve.
2. Sea Change Eco Retreat, Uoleva Island
Uoleva Island has a good selection of snorkelling spots if you know where to go. Sea Change Eco Retreat will show you the best spots within walking distance of their resort if you’re staying with them. Otherwise, they also offer boat trips to go snorkelling at some of the amazing outer reefs, if boats are available. Learn more about the resort in the 10 Best Resorts in Ha’apai.
3. Captain Cook’s Hideaway, Uoleva Island
Admittedly, there’s not much snorkelling directly in front of this basic accommodation on Uoleva Island, but you are in a good position to walk to some nearby snorkelling spots. The accommodation provides snorkelling gear and a real Robinson Crusoe vibe in this quiet corner of Ha’apai where you’ll find snorkelling spots about a 10-minute walk in either direction on the west coast beach of the island. Check out more places to stay in Ha’apai like this in the 7 Best Budget Accommodation in Ha’apai.
4. Taiana’s Resort, Uoleva Island
Taiana’s Resort, also on Uoleva Island, provides more great snorkelling just off the beach of the accommodation. Stay in one of the basic but traditional fales here and enjoy snorkelling in a safe and sheltered lagoon. It’s also a good place to watch whales from shore between July and October.
5. Ha’apai Beach Resort, Lifuka Island
Finally, on the main island of the Ha’apai group, Lifuka, you will find some good snorkelling opportunities at the Ha’apai Beach Resort. Not only does the resort provide snorkelling boat trips to some of the best nearby outer reefs, but the resort also has a house reef right on its doorstep. They also offer shore dives on their house reef should you want to take your underwater exploration a step further. Learn more about diving here in The Best Scuba Diving Tours in Ha’apai.